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Abbeyfield societies

Local housing charities that provide accommodation for older people in small schemes. A few Abbeyfields are affiliated to the National Housing Federation, but almost all are affiliated to their own national organisation. Abbeyfield UK is itself a Federation member.

Abortive fees

Any fees chargeable by valuers, consultants, or a planning authority, for work carried out on a project which is abandoned/aborted.


The responsibility to account for resources or actions. Local authorities are accountable to their electorate. Housing associations are accountable in various ways. They have a direct accountability to the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) for the provision of services to specified standards, and to Homes England for the provision of new homes. They are also accountable to the local authorities in whose areas they work, to their tenants and in a more general way to the wider community.

Accounting direction or determination

The relevant accounting requirements direction or determination issued by the RSH in England or the equivalent body elsewhere.

Accounting Order

The statutory instrument that still provides the legal format for housing association accounts in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Accounts Commission

The body responsible for the audit of local authorities in Scotland and for helping them to achieve best value in their activities. It also has powers to hold public hearings into the conduct of local authorities, councillors and officers.

Accrued interest

Interest already earned but not yet due or payable.

Acquisition and works

A method of procurement in which a housing association purchases land and undertakes a building contract directly with a house builder or contractor.


Works to make existing dwellings more suitable for people with physical disabilities. Tenants may be eligible for a disabled facilities grant to fund works.

Affordability ratio

The ratio of rent to income. Several versions exist, according to whether income is calculated before or after taxes and benefits. The National Housing Federation version is the ratio of rent (including any service charge) to net disposable income (including any entitlement to housing benefit).

Affordable Homes Programme

Homes England’s investment programme for capital expenditure on various types of project. This was previously known as the Approved Development Programme or the National Affordable Housing Programme.

Affordable rent

A form of rent, set at up to 80% of local market rents. It was introduced under the Affordable Homes Programme 2011–15 and the majority of grant-funded new build homes in England are now at affordable rent rather than social rent.

All-in cost

The total cost of a financial transaction, including interest cost, periodic charges and all fees, etc.

Allocations (by a social landlord)

The identification of a particular property to be offered to a person who will become a tenant.


In Scotland, development allowances and management and maintenance allowances are used in the calculation of grant, to cover the assumed costs of housing associations.


The gradual reduction of a premium over a period of time. Repaying a loan by instalments that include both interest and capital.

Annual returns

The RSH requires the FVA, a summary of the annual accounts, to be submitted within six months of the financial year-end and the Financial Forecast Return (FFR), a static return used to gather medium to long-term planning data in a common format, by 30 June or whenever it is updated. The FFR requires housing associations to provide five or 30 years of data from their business plan, depending upon their development assumptions. A quarterly financial survey is also required.


A fixed sum of money paid each year for a specified number of years. (When used in referring to loans the sum paid is made up of interest and capital repayment.)

Arm’s length management organisation (ALMO)

Company set up and owned by a local authority to manage housing stock, initially as a way of accessing Decent Homes funding.


Anything that is owned which can be given a monetary value, eg buildings, land, cars, machinery, cash, investments, etc. Assets are always considered in comparison with liabilities in an organisation’s accounts.

Asset management

Prudent manipulation and control of assets in the best interests of an organisation.

Assured shorthold tenancy

A variant of the assured tenancy under the Housing Act 1988 to encourage private letting. The tenancy must run for at least six months, or for its fixed term if longer. After that period the landlord is guaranteed possession of the property, subject to two months’ notice. Though not generally used by housing associations, shortholds are now the most common form of new letting in the private sector. Possession can be sought on the same grounds as for any other assured tenancy (see below).

Assured tenancy

A form of tenancy introduced by the Housing Act 1988 which became the norm for new lettings by housing associations. Such tenancies are outside the provisions of the Rent Act 1977 and the Tenants’ Charter provisions of the Housing Act 1985. The landlord is free to set market rents but housing associations are expected to set affordable rents and give additional contractual rights to tenants, as required by the RSH. An assured tenancy cannot be ended by a landlord’s notice to quit. A landlord wishing to end an assured tenancy must serve a notice seeking possession and go to court. Schedule 2 to the Housing Act 1988 sets out the grounds on which the courts can, or in some cases must, grant possession.

Base rate

The interest rate used by financial institutions as a benchmark for pricing some loans.

Basis points

A term used by financial institutions to describe one hundredth of one per cent, so 1% is equal to 100 basis points.

Benchmarks (also benchmarking)

Established norms for judging performance against performance indicators.

Benefits cap

The cap on the total welfare benefits that an individual or a family can receive. It was introduced through the Welfare Reform Act 2012 and is administered through deductions from housing benefit payments, or a cap on universal credit.


The managing body of a social landlord.


A certificate of debt for a form of long-term loan that normally carries a fixed rate of interest and whose principal is repaid after a fixed period. Bonds can be bought and sold during their life.

Business plan

A document which sets out an organisation’s plans for its future operations and development. It can help management committees to plan strategically and may also be of use to demonstrate to the regulator or Homes England and to lenders that the association has clear aims and objectives and sound development and finance strategies.

Cap (on interest)

A limit to the highest rate of interest which may be paid on a variable interest loan.


The financial basis of a business that gives it its trading strength. There are various forms of capital, eg working capital for day-to-day transactions, capital invested in assets, and so on.

Capital adequacy

A test of whether or not an organisation has the minimum value of reserves to run its business safely.

Capital appreciation

Growth in the value of an asset.

Capital expenditure

Most importantly, the cost of providing new homes – the term covers investment in permanent assets such as land, buildings, roads, equipment and so on.

Capital Funding Guide

Homes England’s guide containing the rules and procedures for social landlords that have received grant funding through its funding programmes.


The conversion of revenue expenditure into a capital sum. An example would be where the costs of a loan are added to the amount of the loan outstanding rather than being paid from another source.


The amount of money flowing into and out of an organisation in a specified period, and out of which routine expenses, such as loan repayments, are met. An organisation can have solid reserves and valuable assets but still experience problems if the money coming in is not sufficient to cover cash commitments.

Charitable housing associations

The majority of housing associations are charities. They may be either charitable trusts or companies, or co-operative and community benefit societies whose rules limit their objectives to charitable purposes. Charitable status confers certain privileges, including exemption from corporation tax, but limits activities that can be carried out. See also non-charitable housing association.

Component accounting

Component accounting requires significant components of an asset that have different useful lives to be identified and depreciated separately.

Co-operative and community benefit societies

A society registered under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014. They have replaced industrial and provident societies.


The principle underpinning the RSH’s approach, whereby the regulator focuses on the economic standards and housing associations are expected to put in place their own scrutiny arrangements to ensure that they comply with the consumer standards.

Corporation tax

The tax levied on profits made by a company through its trading; charities are exempt from corporation tax in respect of surpluses made on charitable activities.

Cost floor

The figure for the original cost of provision of a property which is used in connection with the right to buy. The discount for which a tenant is eligible cannot reduce the purchase price below the cost floor, but only costs incurred in the eight years prior to the right to buy purchase are reckonable.


A loan covenant is an agreement by a borrower that is legally binding on the borrower over the life of a loan to perform certain acts, eg timely provision of financial statements, or to refrain from certain acts such as borrowing from another lender without prior approval. Financial covenants are ratios relating to accounts and/or cashflows.

Comprehensive performance assessment (CPA)

See Comprehensive Area Assessment (CAA).

Cyclical maintenance

Maintenance planned in advance and carried out at regular intervals, eg external redecoration and redecoration of internal common parts, renewal of major items of equipment, maintenance of central heating plants, roof repairs etc to keep a dwelling weather tight.

Decent Homes Standard

The measure set by the government that assesses whether a home is of sufficiently high standard (in respect of condition).

Defects liability period

The contractual period after the completion of a housing project in which the client can identify any faults or omissions which it is the contractor’s responsibility to remedy. Normally the defects liability period is six months.

Defects period

The period after the completion of a contract during which contractors are required to make good, at their own expense, any work which needs repair.

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC)

The government department responsible for social housing.


An accounting term which describes the systematic write-off of the reduction in value of a fixed asset due to wear and tear, passing of time and technological changes over its economic useful life.

Design and build contract

Agreement with a building contractor whereby all or most of the design work is organised by the contractor. The contract includes the cost of this design work.

Design and Quality Standards

Standards that must be met for all new homes funded from SHG in the 2008–11 or 2011–15 programmes. These replaced Scheme Development Standards from 2008.

Designated reserves

See Reserves.

Development (development programme)

The processes for buying, building or improving property, whether for rent or sale.

Directors’ and officers’ insurance

A form of insurance to cover wrongful acts (but not the consequences of acting on bad professional advice) of the directors and officers of a company, or the voluntary board members and senior staff of a housing association.

Discounted cashflow

A technique which can be used to value housing association projects. It gives the net present value of all the expected cash inflows and outflows from the projects. A practical example of its use is in determining the price to be paid for a voluntary transfer of housing stock to a new housing association.

Disposal Proceeds Fund (DPF)

The restricted fund into which housing associations must place the net proceeds from sales of their homes (to tenants) under voluntary and statutory purchase grant schemes. This fund is controlled by the regulator of social housing. Any refunds of Disposal Proceeds Fund would be paid to the regulator. From 6 April 2017 registered providers do not have to pay new proceeds from relevant disposals into a DPF but existing DPF funds had to be managed and spent in accordance with the previous requirements until April 2020.

District valuer

A government official employed by HMRC. If required, the district valuer can provide a valuation on properties and sites to be acquired by a housing association with funding from Homes England.

Disturbance payments

Payments made under the Land Compensation Act 1973 to recompense tenants for costs actually incurred in moving as a result of the activities of a housing association.

Eligible rent

A term used to calculate housing benefit – it means the part of rent which pays for use of the property, for which housing benefit may be paid, but not extra items such as water rates, council tax or heating costs.


The inherent value of a property that can be realised when the property is sold, after meeting all liabilities, eg repayment of loans and SHG. The owner’s equity increases as the capital value rises.

Equity sharing

The sharing of the equity in a property between the occupier and another party, usually a housing association or a local authority. This term therefore covers community leasehold, shared ownership, leasehold schemes for the elderly and similar arrangements.

Existing Use Value for Social Housing (EUV-SH)

This is a basis of valuation unique to social housing in the UK. A ‘basis of valuation’ means a definition in the form of a set of assumptions that must be made when giving an opinion of value on that basis. The definition is laid down by RICS as the valuers’ professional body and regulator that provides mandatory best practice standards for the valuation profession.

EUV-SH assumes a sale of social housing from one provider to another, either directly or through the medium of a funder acting on a default under a loan for which the homes are charged as security. It shares common principles with the definition of market value (see below).

However, EUV-SH explicitly assumes that the homes will remain in their existing use – ie that the vendor can only sell to another registered provider, that the homes will continue to be let and managed in perpetuity within the regulated sector and that any future sale would be on the same terms. Any homes which are vacant at the valuation date are assumed to be re-let, rather than sold with vacant possession.


In Scotland, the management and maintenance of common parts of properties such as flats and other buildings with shared ownership.

Fair rent

A historic term referring to a rent charged under a secure tenancy. From 5 April 1989 all new housing association lettings are on assured tenancies at rent levels negotiated between the landlord and the tenant. However fair rents still apply in Scotland.

Financial Forecast Return (FFR)

A return required by the RSH for all registered providers owning or managing more than 1,000 units. The information informs the assessment of a provider’s ability to meet the requirements of the viability elements of the Governance and Financial Viability Standard and the Value for Money Standard.

Financial instrument

A general term for securities encompassing a range of financial debt from negotiable deposits to bonds. Often used in relation to short maturities, such as money market/financial instruments.

Financial Reporting Exposure Draft (FRED)

Issued by the FRC for consultation purposes prior to the issue of a Financial Reporting Standard.

Financial Reporting Council (FRC)

The body that sets and revises the standards for financial accounting and corporate reporting for all bodies in the UK. It took over responsibility from the Accounting Standards Board (ASB) in 2012.

Financial Reporting Standard (FRS)

Standard issued by the FRC.

Financial statements

The period end accounts of an entity, typically comprising a report by the board, legal and administrative details, the four primary statements (statement of comprehensive income, statement of financial position, statement of changes in reserves and statement of cash flows) plus accounting policies and notes explaining and expanding on details given in the primary statements and accompanied by an auditors’ report (also referred to as ‘statutory accounts’).

First tranche disposal

The initial portion of a shared ownership property sold to the lessee (the buyer or the shared owner).

Flexible tenure

A form of shared ownership in which people may own part of their home and rent the rest, with an ability to increase or decrease the proportion that is rented or owned between 100% ownership and 100% renting.

Floating and fixed charges

A floating charge is a form of security granted to a creditor over general assets of an organisation which may change from time to time in the normal course of business (such as stock). The organisation can continue to use the assets in its business until there is a default or similar event, when the floating charge is converted to a fixed charge over the assets that it covers at that time.

Formula rent

The target social rent for a property, calculated using a formula based on relative county earnings, a bedroom weighting and relative property value.


Government securities that are reckoned to be the least risky form of investment on the principle that the state is the least likely of all financial institutions to go bankrupt. Gilts are the yardstick against which the interest rates and redemption yields of housing association bonds are fixed.

Governance codes

The RSH requires that housing associations operate under a recognised code of governance. These include the National Housing Federation, Turnbull and Langlands.


In financial terms a binding written legal promise from a third party to repay a loan if the borrower defaults.

Help to Buy

The government’s scheme for supporting home ownership. Help to Buy: Shared Ownership offers shared ownership through housing associations, while Help to Buy: Equity Loan offers government loans of up to 20% for new build properties.


Housing Health and Safety Rating System. A risk assessment system for housing based on recorded health outcomes caused by specific hazards. This is a requirement for compliance with the Decent Homes standard.


A scheme that offers tenants the opportunity to buy a home on the open market with a 75% mortgage and a 25% loan from a housing association, which must be repaid when the home is sold.


Section 175 of the Housing Act 1996 defines a homeless person as one who has no accommodation in the UK or elsewhere or who has accommodation but is unable to occupy it. Local housing authorities have a duty to secure accommodation for people who are unintentionally homeless and in priority need, ie households with dependent children or where someone is pregnant, certain categories of young people and people who are vulnerable as a result of old age, mental illness, physical disability or institutional background or as a result of violence or the threat of violence.

Homes and Communities Agency (HCA)

Previously the national housing and regeneration agency for England, now renamed Homes England for operational purposes. The HCA was formed in December 2008 through the transfer of the functions and assets of English Partnerships, the investment functions of the Housing Corporation, a number of delivery programmes from CLG and the transfer of the Academy for Sustainable Communities.

Homes England

The trading name of the HCA.


A building providing “residential accommodation (otherwise than in separate, self-contained premises) and either board or facilities for the preparation of food” (Housing Associations Act 1985). Although this definition could embrace most group homes and cluster flats, in housing association usage ‘hostel’ normally refers to a scheme that might be eligible for Supporting People funding and is one that contains more than five bed spaces and has a resident or non-resident warden.

House in multiple occupation (HMO)

House occupied by members of more than one household. A licensing system for HMOs was introduced under the Housing Act 2004.

Housing association

A non-profit-distributing voluntary body formed to provide housing. Housing associations are legally constituted and may be charitable trusts, co-operative and community benefit societies or occasionally companies.

Housing Association Grant (HAG)

Former name for Social Housing Grant in England. This term still applies in Scotland.

Housing benefit

Financial assistance to help tenants of housing associations, local authorities and private landlords pay their rent.

Housing Quality Indicator (HQI)

A measure of the quality of housing, used in assessing development schemes.

Housing register

The list of people seeking housing that a local authority usually maintains under the Housing Act 1996. The Homelessness Act 2002 abolished the duty to maintain a housing register, although local authorities may continue to maintain such a register.

Housing Revenue Account (HRA)

The landlord’s revenue account for a local authority. The account is ringfenced, ie it may only contain income and expenditure attributable to local authority tenants. It cannot be subsidised from other council accounts.

Housing stock

The total number of properties owned by a housing association (or by a local authority).

Housing trust

A form of charitable housing association that has charitable trusts set up by endowment to provide housing for poor, infirm or elderly people.


The renovation of a property without altering the number of dwellings provided. The description distinguishes this form of rehabilitation from schemes of conversion, where the number of dwellings is changed.

Improvement for sale (IFS)

An arrangement whereby housing associations can buy and modernise older property for outright sale, obtaining a limited payment of Social Housing Grant to bridge the gap between the cost to the association and the selling price. Sales are normally at full market value although some tenants of housing associations may be entitled to discounts.

In-depth assessment (IDA)

Private registered providers that own 1,000 or more social housing units are subject to periodic IDAs every three or four years, to assess their compliance with the economic standards.

Indemnity insurance

Insurance against an association incurring any loss, up to an agreed figure, when purchasing land or buildings as a result of a third party successfully enforcing some restriction (usually a restrictive covenant on the development of a site). See also professional indemnity insurance.

Industrial and provident society

See co-operative and community benefit society.

Intermediate rent

Intermediate rent (or in Scotland, mid-market rent) is a type of tenancy aimed at those on low incomes but who do not qualify for social housing. The rent charged must be below market rate (in Wales it must not exceed 80%). Intermediate rent homes are usually let on an assured shorthold tenancy basis with a six-month contract period.

International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS)

International standards for accounting and financial reporting. Will be supported/adopted by the FRC for the UK.

JCT form of contract

The Joint Contracts Tribunal (JCT) forms of contract are used by housing associations for both new build and rehabilitation work. They are legal documents that set out the duties and responsibilities of the developer, contractor and the consultants for the building process, and contain provisions for one side to enforce the contract should others default in any way.

Joint Contracts Tribunal (JCT)

Building industry organisation that specifies standard building contracts.

Key worker

Certain categories of public sector employees who may be eligible for social housing schemes to help them find affordable housing near their place of work.

Large scale voluntary transfer (LSVT)

A housing association may be sponsored by a local authority to take over local authority housing under a large scale voluntary transfer scheme. Also see voluntary transfer housing association.

Latent defects

Defects in a building that at the time of final inspection at the completion of the building contract were not apparent. Latent defects must be remedied by the contractor if they arise out of acts or omissions during the building contract.


Long-term rental of any asset, including housing. In practice this term tends to be applied to fixed-term tenancies running for seven years or more.


Where a property is sold and simultaneously leased back to the original owner. Also called sale and leaseback. Leaseback agreements are the process by which a developer sells land and/or buildings and then leases back the land (to put buildings on it) and/or the buildings (to sublet). In the role of developer, housing associations have undertaken leaseback agreements with local authorities under which the association owns the housing and leases it back to the authority for letting to local authority tenants. Normally the association manages the property on behalf of the local authority. Leaseback agreements are no longer approved by the government for use by local authorities.

Leasehold schemes for the elderly (LSE)

Sheltered housing provided on the basis of sale of a lease.

Leasehold Valuation Tribunal (LVT)

The body appointed to make decisions on various types of dispute relating to residential leasehold property. The LVT is an independent decision making body which is unconnected to the parties or any other public agency.

Leaseholder and Tenant Acts

Acts setting out rights and responsibilities of landlords, leaseholders and tenants.


The availability of liquid assets (cash). Liquidity risk is the risk that a housing association will be unable to meet its liabilities as they fall due.

Loan agreement

Covers the terms for lending money for the provision of housing.

Low-cost home ownership (LCHO)

A generic term for shared ownership, leasehold schemes for the elderly, HomeBuy and Improvement for Sale schemes.


The regular inspection, repair and redecoration of a property to prevent it from deteriorating. This includes responsive and void repairs.

Major repairs

Repairs which are too substantial to be covered by the normal annual maintenance programme. They generally relate to a building’s structure or services.

Managing agent

A body – may be a housing association, a firm of estate agents or a specialist organisation – that provides housing management services to a housing association scheme.

Market renting

A scheme not subsidised by SHG for letting to tenants who are liable to pay the market rent (eg student accommodation, hospital staff accommodation, private sector lettings).

Market value

Market value is a ‘basis of valuation’ defined by RICS. This means a definition in the form of a set of assumptions that must be made when giving an opinion of value on that basis. The definition is laid down by RICS as the valuers' professional body and regulator that provides mandatory best practice standards for the valuation profession.

Market value is the estimated amount for which a property should exchange on the valuation date, between a willing buyer and a willing seller, in an arm's-length transaction, after proper marketing, wherein the parties had each acted knowledgeably, prudently and without compulsion, and with no account taken of any bid from a purchaser with a special interest.

Market value subject to existing tenancies (MV-T or MVSTT)

MV-T is a ‘basis of valuation’ (see above under EUV-SH) used only in the social housing sector, and only for loan security purposes. It is a set of assumptions that underpin an opinion of value given to a lender for loan security purposes. It follows exactly the principles of market value and therefore assumes a sale taking place between a willing seller and a willing buyer, at arm’s length, after proper marketing, where both parties are acting knowledgeably, prudently and without compulsion and with no account taken of any bid from a purchaser with a special interest.

MV-T then adds an assumption that the properties are subject to any secure or assured tenancies that may prevail, together with any other conditions or restrictions to which the properties may be subject.

In contrast to EUV-SH, the purchaser is assumed not to be a registered provider, and therefore to take a commercial approach to maximising value (within the bounds of legal restrictions, including title and binding agreements) and may therefore increase rents to market levels and/or sell voids on the open market.

Modern methods of construction (MMCs)

Construction methods that differ from traditional methods and that aim to increase the efficiency of construction, such as off-site prefabrication.

National Housing Federation (NHF)

The central representative, negotiating and advisory body for housing associations and other non-profit housing bodies in England.

Net realisable value

The amount at which an asset could be disposed of, less any direct selling costs.

Non-charitable housing association

A housing association such as a co-operative and community benefit society that is not a charity, although is still non-profit making.

Off-the-shelf schemes

The purchase by a housing association of dwellings already completed by private builders.


This is the right, but not the obligation, to take a certain course of action. For example, a housing association may negotiate an option to fix interest rates on its loan if interest rates start rising sharply, ie the option to fix will only be exercised if there are sharp rises, but the association is not required to fix at any time.

Performance indicator (PI)

A relative measure of performance against a pre-set standard that helps to show whether an objective is being achieved. The RSH requires housing associations to use and publish performance indicators on a range of housing management, finance and development activities. KPI = key performance indicator.

Planned maintenance

A programme of regular inspection, repair and redecoration of buildings and services, as opposed to responsive maintenance.


A group of properties acquired under one purchase contract, or a package of different loans where an association seeks to balance the risks of each.


Partnering Programme Agreement. Introduced by the Housing Corporation for the 2004–06 bidding round as a new way of bidding for grant.

Practical completion

The moment when the building scheme is handed over to the housing association and the property is ready to let.


See premature redemption.

Premature redemption

Where redemption takes place before the end of the loan’s term. Also known as early redemption or prepayment.

Priority need

A term used to define a group of people who, if unintentionally homeless, are owed the main homeless duty (see homelessness).

Private finance

Funding for the capital cost of housing association schemes that comes from a private lender and not through the Homes England, a local authority or any other public body.

Private finance initiative (PFI)

A government initiative introduced in 1992 within the wider Public Private Partnership (PPP) programme. PFI was designed to change the nature of public sector procurement to one in which public sector bodies became buyers of services from private sector organisations or consortia. A primary objective was to introduce private sector finance and expertise into the delivery of public sector spending programmes.

Private Finance 2 (PF2)

The revised version of the private finance initiative, introduced in 2012.

Private sector leasing (PSL)

Scheme by which a housing association acts as a letting agent for, or leases a property from, a private sector owner and lets it at market rent levels.

Professional indemnity insurance

Insurance of a professional practice (eg architect, surveyor) against claims by a client for negligent design or advice.


Funds set aside or earmarked for a particular use, eg major repairs provision.

Public liability insurance

An insurance policy against the possibility of claims from members of the public for damages.

Public Private Partnerships (PPP)

Partnerships between the public (or voluntary) sectors and the private sectors for provision of goods or services.


Items of expenditure that can be recharged to third parties, for example through a service charge or an insurance claim.

Recycled capital grant fund

The fund established to hold the SHG recyclable under the Social Housing Grant Recovery of Capital Grant General Determination 1997. This applies in England only.

Refinancing risk

The risk that loans falling due, which the housing association does not have cash resources to repay, cannot be replaced at an acceptable cost.

Registered homes

The Care Standards Act 2000 requires that homes providing accommodation and care to certain groups (older people, people with disabilities or mental health problems or drugs and alcohol dependency) must register with the Care Quality Commission.

Registered provider

A provider of social housing that is registered with the RSH. This can include for-profit providers and local authorities as well as housing associations.

Registered social landlord (RSL)

The concept introduced by the Housing Act 1996 applying to housing organisations registered with the RSH. These may be charities that are housing associations (registered with the Charity Commission), industrial and provident societies, and not-for-profit companies. Under the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 the term ‘registered provider’ has replaced ‘RSL’ in England, although the term still applies in Wales and Scotland.


All housing associations have to register with at least two government agencies that have supervisory and regulatory powers over them. This is because the registrations have different functions to perform. The first registration (in all cases) is to establish an organisation as a corporate body, ie to give it a separate legal identity. So to establish incorporation, co-operative and community benefit societies are registered with the Financial Conduct Authority, charitable trusts register with the Charity Commission and charitable companies register with the Registrar of Companies. Subsequently, all three types of organisation must register with the regulator of social housing if they wish to receive Social Housing Grant.

Regulator of Social Housing (RSH)

The body responsible for setting and ensuring compliance with the regulatory standards for registered housing providers. Prior to 2018 it was part of the Homes and Communities Agency (now Homes England) but it is now established as a separate body.

Regulatory Arrangements for Small Associations (RASA)

The system used by the regulator for regulation of non-developing housing associations with less than 1,000 homes.

Regulatory judgements

A regulatory judgement is a report summarising the RSH’s overall assessment of a registered provider’s compliance with the regulatory framework. It sets out the regulator’s view of whether the organisation is viable, properly governed and properly managed.

Regulatory standards

The regulator’s standards containing its expectations and the outcomes that registered providers should achieve. There are three economic standards (Governance and Financial Viability, Value for Money and Rent) and four consumer standards (Tenant Involvement and Empowerment, Home, Tenancy, and Neighbourhood and Community).


The extensive modernisation of a building involving either conversion or improvement. Normally the property will be expected to have a minimum life of 30 years after rehabilitation. Also known as rehab.

Rent convergence

A term used to describe rent restructuring (see rent restructuring).

Rent guarantee

A formal guarantee given by a landlord about its intentions for future increases in rent. LSVT housing associations typically give a five-year rent guarantee at the time of transfer.

Rent officer

A statutory official whose duty, in tenancies to which the Rent Act 1977 applies, is to establish fair rents at the request of the landlords or tenants. Local authorities must refer housing benefit claims for most non-housing association assured tenants to the rent officer who will determine whether the rent is reasonable and the size of accommodation is appropriate to meet the tenant’s needs.

Rent restructuring

The term used for the scheme to harmonise rents charged by housing associations and local authorities. This started in April 2002 and was originally timed to take ten years, although amendments to the scheme have since been made for local authorities. For supported housing it took effect in 2003.


Reserves are accumulated surpluses that can either be designated (eg to meet a certain defined purpose, such as major repairs or furniture replacement), restricted (eg limited use defined by law or an outside donor such as specific charitable donations), or free (eg general reserves for use in the business).

Restricted reserves

Those reserves of a social landlord that are only expendable in accordance with the wishes of the funder.

Revenue expenditure

The money that associations spend on a day-to-day basis, eg staffing and office costs, as opposed to capital expenditure, which is money spent on non-day-to-day activities such as building new homes.

Right to acquire

Allows tenants of both charitable and non-charitable housing associations to purchase their homes at a discount. This applies to homes built and funded by SHG from April 1997 onwards, subject to certain exemptions.

Right to buy (RTB)

Under the Housing Act 1980, most secure tenants of non-charitable housing associations and of local authorities have the right to buy their homes at a discount, after a minimum period of residence.

Risk management

The active process of seeking to contain and limit the risks to which housing associations are exposed, in development, management or funding of their operations.

Sensitivity analysis

Analysis of the effects of different assumptions on a financial plan, such as increases in costs, changes in inflation and changes in rent levels or property values. Combinations of variables should be tested to see which scenarios have the greatest impact on the business.

Scottish Federation of Housing Associations

Representative body for housing associations in Scotland.

Scottish Housing Regulator

The regulator for all social housing landlords in Scotland.

Section 106 agreements

Agreements under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 whereby a developer provides affordable housing or other schemes to benefit the community in exchange for grant of planning permission.

Secure tenant/tenancy

The tenant of a housing association (or local authority) enjoying security of tenure and various privileges of the Tenants’ Charter, defined by Part IV of the Housing Act 1985. Although the Housing Act 1988 made the assured tenancy regime the norm for housing association lettings, it did not affect the rights of existing secure tenants. A secure tenancy cannot be ended by a landlord’s notice to quit. A landlord wishing to end a secure tenancy must serve a notice of seeking possession and go to court. Schedule 2 to the Housing Act 1985 sets out the grounds on which the courts can grant possession.


Financial assets such as shares, bonds, gilts, etc on which one expects and usually receives interest or dividends, and that can be traded on the stock market.


Property literally constructed by the people who are going to live in it.

Service charge

A charge to the tenant by a housing association for provision of services such as warden facilities, caretaking and cleaning and the running costs of, for example, a communally run heating system, or the lighting of common areas.

Shared Ownership and Affordable Homes Programme

Homes England’s programme to fund the supply of shared ownership and other affordable homes in England. The current programme runs from 2021–26.

Shared housing

Accommodation in which two or more individuals live together and share facilities such as kitchen and bathroom. The term is used to cover hostels, cluster flats and group homes; it is used by the HCA to embrace all these kinds of housing within its annual programme.

Shared ownership

A government funded scheme for the sharing of the equity in a property between the occupier and a housing association. The occupier purchases a property at a proportion of its value and pays a rent to cover the share in the equity retained by the housing association. Typically the purchaser acquires 10% to 75% of the property and pays rent on the share owned by the landlord. The purchaser has the right to increase their share of the equity; this is known as staircasing.

Social HomeBuy

A voluntary scheme introduced in 2006, whereby a tenant of a participating housing association or local authority can buy a percentage share in their home, and pay rent on the remainder.

Social housing

General term including rented housing owned by local authorities and housing associations.

Social Housing Grant (SHG)

Grant paid by the Homes England to registered providers for capital development programmes. Replaced Housing Association Grant (HAG).

Social rent

This form of rent is calculated according to a formula based on property values and local earnings. The rent level is set in accordance with the regulators rent standard.

Spare room subsidy (bedroom tax)

Reduction to housing benefit for social housing tenants deemed to be under-occupying a property, based on the number, ages and sex of the tenants and the number of bedrooms.

Special needs housing

Accommodation provided for people with some special disability or requirement in addition to their need for a home, either in self-contained accommodation or in shared housing.

Special purpose vehicle (SPV)

Separate legal entity created solely for a specific purpose.


A document setting out descriptions and standards of materials, fittings and workmanship within a building contract.

Stability Check

The regulator carries out an annual Stability Check of all private registered providers that own 1,000 or more social housing units, reviewing their financial position, governance arrangements and approach to value for money.


A term used in relation to shared ownership to describe the purchase by the occupier of additional portions or tranches of the equity of their property, some time after the initial purchase. Eventually the occupier can achieve 100% ownership.

Stamp duty land tax (SDLT)

Starting in December 2003 this tax replaced stamp duty for transactions involving UK land and buildings.

Statement of Recommended Practice (SORP)

Recommended practice for published accounts which, with the agreement of the FRC, has become the accepted standard for the social housing sector.

Statistical Data Return (SDR)

A return that must be submitted to the RSH each year. It includes a range of data including rent levels and is used to assess compliance with the regulatory framework and rents policy

Statutory form of accounts

The form in which the accounts of housing associations must be published, as set out by statutory instrument under the Housing Act 1996.

Statutory instrument (SI)

Regulation promulgated by government under authority conferred by an Act of Parliament. One of the most important types of secondary legislation.

Statutory nuisance

An incident or event or action that causes nuisance to third parties, and against which legal proceedings may be brought.

Statutory purchase grant

See right to acquire.

Stock condition survey

A survey of all or a sample of the landlord’s homes. The intention is usually to assess the need for catch up repairs, or to feed into a stock valuation.

Stock transfers

The transfer of social housing properties from local authorities to housing associations. This was one of three options for local authorities that needed additional funding to achieve the Decent Homes Standard.

Supported housing

Shared or self-contained accommodation in which older people or residents with special needs are provided with a wider range of services designed to meet their needs.

Supporting People

The term applied to funding housing-related support services that help vulnerable people to live independently. The funding was initially ringfenced but is now included in local authorities’ main formula grant, and Supporting People no longer exists as a separate programme, although some areas continue to use the framework.

Target rent

The rent calculated for a property under rent restructuring, based on relative property value (as at January 1999) and relative local earnings. The actual rent should move towards the target rent through annual increases or decreases.

Teckal exemption

An exemption from certain procurement regulations that applies when two or more contracting authorities set up an entity that provides works or services back to the contracting authorities, and that does not have a wider commercial purpose.


Legal agreement allowing someone to occupy land or a property for a period, after which the property reverts to the freeholder or superior landlord. A tenancy, which is usually (but not necessarily) granted in exchange for rent, can be periodic or fixed term. A fixed term tenancy of seven years or more is often referred to as a ‘lease’, although strictly speaking the terms ‘tenancy’ and ‘lease’ are interchangeable.

Tenancy agreement

The legal document under which a housing association or other landlord lets property to a tenant.

Tenant management organisation (TMO)

Non-profit organisation set up to take on management responsibilities in a local authority or housing association estate.

Tenant Services Authority (TSA)

Until 2012, the regulator for the social housing sector. It was established in 2008 and took over the regulatory responsibilities of the Housing Corporation. From 1 April 2010 it became the cross-domain regulator of all social housing landlords in England. Its responsibilities were first passed to the Homes and Communities Agency in 2012, and then separated again as the regulator of social housing from October 2018.

Tenanted market value (TMV)

A method of assessing the value of a property that is subject to an assured or secure tenancy. Rather than assessing the value of a property, the value of the income stream becomes more important.


The offer made by a contractor to carry out work, whether for new build, rehabilitation or repairs. After several builders have submitted their competitive tenders, the lowest is generally accepted.


Describes the ‘hold’ that an occupier has on a property. The principal forms are owner occupation and tenancy.


A loan can be passed to the borrower either in one sum, or in a number of instalments called ‘tranches’. The same applies to Social Housing Grant, which is normally paid in predetermined percentage tranches to associations at agreed trigger points.

Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment Regulations (TUPE)

Regulations to safeguard the terms and conditions of employees transferred between organisations.

Unfitness (of property)

The term used where condition of a property falls below defined standards for its purpose.


All-purpose housing term meaning any dwelling or home that can be let separately.

Unitary authority

A local authority with responsibility for all local government functions, including housing, social services, planning, etc. Sometimes referred to as a single tier authority. All metropolitan councils are unitary, as are some other councils in England.

Universal credit

A benefit payment that replaces previously separate benefits (child tax credit, housing benefit, income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income related employment and support allowance and working tax credit). It is being introduced in stages across the UK.

Vacant possession

Description of a property that is not occupied by a sitting tenant (or owner) at the time of its sale. Vacant possession valuations are the standard way of valuing property.


Used to describe an undertaking’s ability to meet its obligations and cover its costs in employing staff, paying for office premises and so on.


The transfer of budgets from one head of expenditure to another.


A dwelling without an occupier.

Void periods and losses

Periods during which a property is empty, e.g. the time between one tenant leaving and another occupying the property, during which rent is lost.

Voluntary Purchase Grant (VPG)

A grant that was payable to tenants of all associations (including charitable associations) to help them buy their homes. This has now been replaced by Social HomeBuy.

Voluntary transfer housing association

The term used where a local authority initiates the transfer of its housing to another landlord and sets up a housing association to receive the transferred stock. Another common term is large scale voluntary transfer (LSVT) housing association.


Employee of a housing association providing management and services to tenants. Used primarily in relation to sheltered housing and hostels. In sheltered housing the term ‘scheme manager’ has replaced warden.

Welfare reform

The government’s programme of major changes to the benefits system. It includes the rollout of universal credit and various changes to reduce the cost of housing benefit.


The annual percentage return on an investment expressed as a percentage.

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